I’m so excited to finally be launching my ‘Eco Entrepreneurs’ series! Cue girlish squeal.
This series will include conversations with entrepreneurs that put sustainability at the heart of what they do. In these blogs, I ask entrepreneurs about their brand journey, why sustainability is important to them and gain insights into what it really takes be successful as an eco entrepreneur.
My mission to elevate these much deserving brands and perhaps even inspire my readers to dip a toe into entrepreneurship themselves. Its all the rage these days!
I’m privileged to start this series off with an interview with Botanic Isles. A fellow Scottish company, with a mission to allow customers to ‘wear a little piece of nature’ with their beautiful botanical jewellery. I’ve been following this brand for a while, so was thrilled when the founder, Laura Cooke, agreed to speak with me.
Keep reading to find out how Laura escaped her exhausting waitressing role, to reconnect with nature, and her advice on how you could do the same. You can also find an exclusive 50% discount code for Hippy Highland Living readers at the end of this blog.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me Laura! Firstly, it would be lovely to learn a bit about how Botanic Isles began. What led you to starting this company?
Thank you for your lovely question, it’s one I am asked a lot but never tire of answering!
Botanic Isles has almost been a life-long venture for me – nature is in my blood and if we get down to the root cause for me wanting to start this specific business, it would be 100 % due to escapism.
I started Botanic Isles while I was a waitress in a busy Glasgow restaurant and was working 16 hours a day, 8 hours in between, 5 or 6 days a week with one 15-minute break if I was lucky. I started to desperately crave being outside and I came to realise my anxiety of life, the physical toll I was taking on my body with a very physically demanding job and my mental health was about as bad as it could possibly get.
I began to dream of being outside and doing what I loved as a child – I think that is the route of all happiness and it is this element I wanted to pass onto customers. I have always been a collector and have always loved science – from a young age I would study plants and insects almost to an obsessive level. I would literally come home from school, go straight back outside and check on the same plants in my little garden every day – in a stressful world, plants were my escape.
I became interested in resin as a medium as my Grandpa was the director of a plastics company back in the 80’s.
‘I began researching and realised how many resin jewellery crafters were illegally picking wildflowers and using environmentally damaging resins and it got the inner entrepreneur in me thinking – I can do this better and kinder without sacrificing my own environmental beliefs and standards AND still give back to the country and nature that I love.’
If you could describe your brand’s mission in one sentence, what would it be?
Wear a little piece of Scottish nature – we are eco-friendly so no consumer guilt here!
What’s different between Botanic Isles and other botanic jewellery companies?
I started Botanic Isles to be different and break the mould on what resin jewellery was before I started my company. Now, we are the largest manufacturer of resin jewellery outside of Asia, but we have never compromised on several eco principles of our brand:
We always plant more than we collect each year – our cottage garden is a bee and nature haven.
We only use premium eco-friendly resin which is entirely non-toxic on the skin. This defines us hugely from 99% of other makers.
All our flowers are collected legally from private land with permission from land owners, farmers across the country and organisations like the National Trust.
Our jewellery, when maintained properly, will never wilt or fade – with cheaper brands you would be lucky to get 6 weeks out of your jewellery.
We use eco-friendly packaging which is also biodegradable.
If we don’t think we should then we don’t. We monitor the health of nearby bees so if they need more flowers that year – they come first.
We consider ourselves the leaders in the industry in terms of quality, customer service and design.
We are a trusted brand. For example, myself and my team are some of the only people in the world allowed to collect Culloden heather.
How important is sustainability to you and how do you incorporate it into your brand?
‘Sustainability is everything to us – no plants, no bees, no life and no planet. It is as simple as that, if it isn’t good for the planet, we don’t want it.’
We only buy from UK suppliers also for our silver which makes a huge difference to our carbon footprint.
Do you have a creative process when designing new jewellery?
First it begins with head space. I consider myself to be quite a spiritual person and time and energy is everything. When I am collecting, I do tend to collect when the flowers are at the end of their season so that nature has had its fill first.
Once collected, I sort the botanicals into a scale of vibrancy, genetic perfection, size and quality. Next, the botanicals go through our long drying process and then sketches are done to ensure composition before they go into resin. Lynsey, our head resin jewellery maker, is fantastic at designing and as such our botanical and resin wastage is almost nil.
All your collections are beautiful, but I have to say the moss one may be my favourite. It’s so unique! Do you have a favourite collection?
Thank you so much! Out of all the collections we do, I would definitely say that our Loch Ness dandelion seed range tops it for me! The engineering level precision of the wishes inside and the quality of the seeds in our resin is truly breath taking. A little sphere of pure perfection! I’m very much an earrings kind of girl so when my partner treats me to a day out, I always wear my lucky dands!
You have clearly created a successful company. What tips would you give aspiring eco entrepreneurs?
The three main pieces of advice that I would give to any eco entrepreneur would be:
Put the effort in, get in the habit of getting up earlier than your competition and spending more time looking into the validity of your eco-friendly business. It does take extra time and resources to source eco-friendly goods but this is becoming more widely available (thank goodness)
Stick to your guns, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Don’t be pressured into lowing your standards for the sake of something that is not a universal good. Don’t be afraid of failure, if your business is not likely to work, drop it and change, modify and come back stronger.
A sick entrepreneur is not a good entrepreneur – put your health first, exercise and eat right! I stick to a mostly vegetarian diet with the aim of going vegan in the coming months.
What can readers expect to see next from this brand?
We have so much for our customers to look forward to! Expect a new beach range launching at the end of July using found fisherman’s net (we love to upcycle here) and a wild mushroom range coming at the start of Autumn. We have also just launched our own subscription box and eco-friendly candle range – we love to keep busy!
For the exclusive 50% discount code, across the entire Botanic Isles range, enter - SUMMER50
I have many more exciting eco entrepreneurs lined up to tell their stories, so watch this space!